Friday, August 8, 2008

Straw Hat Expands Pizza Chain, Launches Second Straw Hat Grills Brand in Fremont, CA

Chain’s New Straw Hat Grill to Open in Fremont, CA with Grand Opening Thursday, September 25, 2008

As part of its rapid growth initiative, Straw Hat Pizza is opening one of its new-concept restaurants, called Straw Hat Grill, in Fremont, CA with a grand-opening celebration Thursday, September 25, 2008. Once touted as California’s largest pizza chain, Straw Hat is aggressively ramping up again, planning to more than double in size, increasing its Straw Hat Pizza and Straw Hat Express locations to 100, from 45 by 2011.

Restaurant franchising industry veteran Chandru Gurnani is bullish on this new grill concept that adds pasta, steak, ribs, burgers and salads to the traditional Straw Hat pizza fare. He’s bringing his more than 23 years experience to drive the franchise growth, and create Straw Hat Grill into a stand-out eatery and cutting-edge concept in the restaurant industry.

Unlike competitors where fare is fried, everything at Fremont’s new Straw Hat Grill is created from fresh ingredients. Gurnani himself handpicks produce from the Farmer’s Market; sauces are homemade and the 100 percent Angus beef is fresh, never frozen.

"We’re more wholesome than a Chilies or Applebee’s,” Says Gurnani, who has owned 14 Taco Bells, 7 Hardy’s, 4 Burger Kings and was named “Guest Service Hero,” during his tenure at Jack-in-the-Box.

The new-concept eatery is located on a busy thoroughfare in the rapidly growing Bay area city of Fremont at 39350 Paseo Padre Parkway. Formerly a Pizzeria SFO, it has been extensively remodeled and includes a full-service bar, deli counter and sit down service.

"Straw Hat Grill caters to the local community including families and businesspeople," said Jonathan Fornaci, the new president of Straw Hat Cooperative Corp. of San Ramon, who was brought on board in January to encourage rapid growth.

“Everything we serve is freshly prepared and healthy,” says Gurnani. “We’re using locally grown produce and we make our own signature aioli, BBQ sauce and guacamole unlike others who use foodservice sauces.“

Straw Hat Grills will be located exclusively on the West Coast, as will the 55 or so new Straw Hat Pizza and Straw Hat Express locations. Fornaci said the company is negotiating for it’s first-ever restaurant in Oregon and is also scouting sites in Washington and British Columbia, as well as in its existing strongholds of California and Nevada.

About Straw Hat Pizza Cooperative Corporation

Called Straw Hat Cooperative Corporation, the company is not a typical franchisor, but a cooperative made up of each Straw Hat pizza restaurant owner. Each restaurant represents one share of ownership. Members pay royalties to the cooperative and in return, receive marketing materials, better deals with suppliers, and ingredients and packaging manufactured by the cooperative.

Each owner has a real say in his or her company’s future, and the Cooperative was recently awarded the prestigious seal of Fair Franchising by the American Association Franchisees & Dealers (AAFD) and awarded “hottest franchise” by America’s Hottest Franchise.

Founded in 1959, Straw Hat Pizza is the originator of "Genuine California Pizza," comprised of numerous locations in the Western U.S. and is poised for rapid growth in the U.S. and Canada during 2008. For more information please visit: and please follow us on Facebook & Twitter @StrawHatPizza.